Fr. Andy Walsh,
The Right of Christian Initiation of Adults ("RCIA") is the process by which men and women respond to the call of the Holy Spirit in their lives by becoming full members of the Catholic Church. Our Lord draws each one of us to communion, fellowship, personal holiness, and evangelization of the whole world. Is the Lord asking you, "Come, Follow Me," in the Catholic Faith?
Classes begin on Thursday, the week of Labor Day, and continue weekly until Easter from 7:00 to 8:30 p.m. every Thursday in the Assembly Room.
In our lives, we are constantly searching for meaning and a purpose. Who am I? What was I made for? The human heart hungers for relationships that nurture our maturity and ability to love and to be loved. Often we seek happiness through things of this world, which in the end still leave us feeling restless. This brings to our awareness that there is still a void – something is still missing. When we step back and reflect upon this void in our hearts, it often leads to the discovery of God.
“You have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our hearts are restless until they rest in you,” points out St. Augustine. This reawakening leads to conversion of heart, and a personal commitment to a relationship with God and his Church community that helps teach and guide us in this journey.
What is the "Catholic" Church? Historically, the "catholic" (meaning "whole" or "universal") Church is that which our Lord Jesus Christ formed when He chose 12 men as Apostles to "make disciples of all nations." As we read in Scripture, it was their tasks to spread the teachings and sacraments of Christ and then govern the Christian communities from the threat of "false teachers" (like the Gnostics). The Apostles then handed on their teaching and governing authority to bishops (or "overseers" in modern translations of the Bible) who would work together to perpetually preserve the teachings and sacraments of Christ.
St. Ignatius of Antioch (a disciple of the Apostle John), who the Apostles made the bishop of Antioch, has the oldest writing to have referred to the whole Church as the "catholic church." The first bishops added this title to the Church in order to distinguish its "universally" held teachings of Jesus Christ from those heresies that did not share in the universal teachings given to the bishops by the Apostles. In other words, the novel teachings of the heretics revealed that they were not a part of Christ's universal Church!
Being the original Church, the Catholic Church is now nearly 2,000 years old! Yet, we know there are other "churches" that have arisen since the Protestant Reformation in the last 475 years, but these are more accurately called "denominations" since Jesus founded only one Church. The Church is to be "one body in Christ," as St. Paul taught, or "the Bride of the Lamb," as St. John taught. So, since Christ only has one body and is joined to one bride (He is no polygamist!), "there must be no divisions in the Church," St. Paul proclaimed. Thus, the Catholic Church never ceases to pray for our Separated Brethren.
Why would I want to become Catholic? Being the original Church founded by Jesus Christ, the real question should be, why wouldn't I want to become Catholic?! Yet, since so many non-Catholics do not realize or understand how the Catholic Church is the original Church, there is much to be gained from the RCIA program to dissolve common myths and misconceptions about the Catholic Church (No, we do not worship Mary! No, Constantine did not start the Catholic Church!). Yet, the chief reason why the Holy Spirit draws men and women to the Catholic Church is to receive God’s fountains of grace in the Seven Sacraments of the New Covenant that Jesus Christ has provided to cleanse and empower us in for the struggles of life.
For the Unbaptized, RCIA gradually uncovers the story of God’s salvation for all; the mystery of Jesus’s life, death and resurrection; as well as the workings of the Holy Spirit and how they are revealed in the beliefs, sacramental life and spiritual practices of the Catholic Church. Within the setting of a parish community and in accordance with the Church’s liturgical year, the St. Thomas program follows the prescribed stages and rites that culminate at the Easter Vigil Mass.
For Baptized Christians who seek full communion with the Catholic Church, the RCIA Program includes rites throughout the year and initiates those Candidates fully with the reception of the sacraments at Easter.
To find out more information about the RCIA Program here at St. Thomas Aquinas Parish contact the Church Office at 316-683-6569.